Friday, February 18, 2011

What to do When You Lose Your Job

What do you do if you lose your job? That is a bit of a rhetorical question. The answer is, whatever it takes!

Having no job when things are already tight is daunting. It has an emotional aspect to it. Emotions vary from anger and frustration to anxiety and depression. Most of the time emotions vacillate between hopeful expectation and worry. Having no income is humbling. We find ourselves praying harder than ever. With kids to feed and bills piling up, we must do whatever it takes to survive and place our trust in the Lord with every breath.

Finding work and finding money to get by is a full-time occupation in itself. Things are hard and they are going to get a lot harder. We are going to put one foot in front of the other, and pray and encourage each other through. It is during dark times like these that I thank God for our faith! Praise You, God, for Your goodness! Even during trials, Lord!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Budget Challenge

Today is a great day to be thinking about my debt snowball with a foot of snow on the ground! :)

I've decided to keep track of our yearly savings with coupons. What I am going to try to do, is create a grocery budget (which really includes food and everything else we need to run the house), and see if I can consistently be under my budget. Then, I will bank the difference to help pay off our debt.

Since we get paid twice a month, I do my big grocery shopping once a month. However, I make smaller trips to the drug stores and to the markets for the loss leaders throughout the month. The hardest part in all this is to set a budget. It seems to fluctuate drastically from month-to-month.

I expect that once my pantry builds up, my oop expenses will decrease.

Here is my monthly purchases which I make just about every month. The prices listed are without coupon. My actual oop is less, but it will help me set my monthly goal:

Diapers - $30
Wipes - $12
TP - $21
Laundry - $12
Chicken Nuggets - $16
Roasters - $28
Chicken Breast - $20
Generic Prilosec - $20
Roast - $10
Other Meat - $20
Eggs - $8
Dairy - $20
Milk - $18
Fruits and Veggies - $20
Snacks - $40
Bread - $22
Frozen Dinners - $48
Water - $20
= $385

Based on these, I believe a total of $400 per month is what I want to be under. That is really frugal for a family of 7 living in the Northeast!

So how am I doing this month? We are halfway through and I'm just starting to track. Our total is now $369 for January. Looks like we won't be under the goal this month because we need more milk and bread, plus some ground beef for meals. That's only $31 left for this month. If I plan well, perhaps I can do it! We'll see!

Do you want to join me on the challenge? Leave a comment! Let me know how you are doing and what your goals are! How are you keeping track? :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New BJ's Wholesale Site!

Hi Everyone!

Just wanted to let you know, that I've decided to make BJ's Wholesale the number 1 store that I cover for coupon matchups. I couldn't keep up with all the weekly sales at the other stores that I like. I figured it's better to concentrate my time to the place I shop at the most.

I'll still post freebies and homemaking items here. But if you want the scoop on good deals at BJ's, follow, like or subscribe to posts over at

They have plans to expand nationwide. If they are not in your area yet, perhaps they will in the near future!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Free Online Typing Program

Hi there! It's been a quiet week on the blog. Just wanted to share this great resource with you.

It's a FREE and ONLINE typing program! It looks excellent. My little student is taking this course this year as one of his electives.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Free Charting/NFP Program - Fertility Friend

Goodmorning! Another glorious day!

Today I wanted to tell you about this fantastic free online program called, Fertility Friend. No, they are not paying me to tell you. I just really like this program!

Fertility Friend tracks of your basal body temperatures and other fertility signs. I've used it for 3 years or more now. It is extremely helpful!

Today I have just learned that they offer a neat iPhone app, too! Makes me wish I owned an iPhone!

They offer free tutorials to help read fertility signs, and they also offer a subscription based (VIP) version that has lots of bells and whistles. Frequently, they offer previews of VIP membership to test drive a membership for 4-5 days. These are chart analyzers to help make better sense of the data you entered.

A neat feature I like, is that you can peruse chart galleries, and see if any have a similar pattern as your own chart.

So far in my NFP journey, I'm finding charting useful in detecting my fertility signs, as well as, revealing some underlying health issues. As a result, I'm actively working on improving my overall health. With the aid of this tool, I'm able to more accurately track and detect my fertility signs each month.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Free Online Lesson Planner, Scheduler, and Tracker

I'm very excited about this free homeschool scheduling program. A neat feature is that if you miss a lesson on a given day, it will move the lesson to another day for you automatically. Another neat feature, is you can share plans with others, thereby saving you typing time! You can import a schedule for a particular subject from someone else's schedule. It takes a little time to set up. But I think this is a useful tool for someone who is juggling multiple students. Tutorial videos are on the site to help you understand the program.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tips for Saving Money on Groceries

Here are some of my tips for saving money on groceries. If you have any other tips, please feel free to comment!

I'll add more as I think of them!

  1. Create a menu plan
  2. Check the fridge and pantry while making your list
  3. Discard anything undesirable or fuzzy looking
  4. Wipe down the shelves before they are restocked
  5. Plan your route if you are going to more than one store
  6. Stick to a budget
  7. Always use a list
  8. Don't bring the kids
  9. If you must bring the kids, make sure they are fed and rested. Tell them the rules before you shop (ie. be on best behavior, don't ask to buy anything: you are just getting what is on the list, stay in the shopping cart, if you do not listen to mommy's voice, we will leave the store, etc.)
  10. Don't shop hungry
  11. Stay hydrated
  12. Wear comfortable footwear
  13. Bring a calculator to do on the spot unit price checks
  14. Stock up when you see a great deal
  15. Use a price book so you know a good deal when you see one
  16. Experiment with store brands
  17. Stack manufacturer and store coupons together if your store allows it
  18. Ask for a rain check when sale items are out of stock
  19. Ask your preferred store to match prices from a competitor (note: bring along your sales flyers from other stores to show them)
  20. Know the coupon policy (print it out and keep in your purse)
  21. If an item is damaged, ask if they will give a discount
  22. If a price is marked wrong, ask if the item is free because of the error
  23. Always check your receipt before leaving the store for mistakes
  24. Invest in a freezer chest to take advantage of good meat sales
  25. Supplement your groceries with fruits and veggies from your own garden
  26. Consider purchasing a cow or half of a cow that has been grass-fed. The meat is delicious, and it's very healthy for your family. You will shop less and save time and money. Split the cost with another family.
  27. Consider sharing a club membership with a friend or family member.
  28. Compare unit prices with club items vs. sales at the regular grocer. Most times, purchasing a smaller item at the grocery store, with a coupon is less per unit price than the club store price. But if you want to shop less, buy the bulk item if it's a good deal and it is less than regular price at the grocery store.
  29. Write the date on an item with a sharpie, when you first open it. This will help you keep track of how long the item lasts. You can write it down in a pantry list to know how many you have vs. how many you want to keep on hand. When you see a good sale, purchase only the number you need for your pantry.
How Do You Save Money on Groceries?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chicken Tetrazzini

2 c. cooked chicken (i used 2 large cans chicken from bj's)
1 lb thin spaghetti broken into 3rds
1 cube chicken bullion
diced carrot, celery, onion, bell pepper (i just used frozen veggies instead)
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1.5 c. shredded cheddar

fill pot with spaghetti and fill with water just until covered. drop in bullion cube. simmer on medium heat for 8 minutes. do not drain.

in large bowl mix all ingredients, including cooked spaghetti. pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. sprinkle some cheddar on top. bake 350 for 30 min.

i had used 2 bullion cubes originally, and it was too salty. if it's still too salty with this recipe above, i'd cut down the soy sauce to 1 tsp. and draining the noodles. EASY RECIPE!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Homemaking Journal

Today while organizing our homeschool cabinet, I dusted off my neglected homemaking journal. It can really use some updating!

What is a homemaking journal? It's a place to keep important details of running the home! I put my journal in a zipped, 3-ring binder that has pockets. The ability to zip up the binder is important to me, so the papers do not get lost!

Inside my journal I have sections for:

* household maintenance
* bills
* menu plans
* grocery log
* to do lists for each room of the house, broken up into:
- items to fix
- items to organize
- items to beautify
* favorite family recipes
* my chore system (based on flylady zones)
* the childrens' clothing and shoe sizes
* important phone numbers and insurance card information

I also have an important section in my journal for what to do in an emergency. It includes all the important numbers, passwords and account information. I've instructed my husband to read that section if I become ill or die. It's good to have ready, just in case!

Do you keep a home journal? Have you considered one? Please share what works for you!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Aldi Recipes and Meal Plans

My dear friend, Mrs. Miller, was kind enough to share the following resource. Here is a great website for all you Aldi shoppers!

Check out the Aldi Queen, for all things Aldi!

We are getting a new Aldi a few towns away, so this may come in very handy for me! But even the recipes are wonderful, and can be used as a springboard for some great meals!

Thanks, Mrs. Miller!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Taco Seasoning Mix

A staple in our house. Way more healthy than the little packets laden with msg and salt. My dh prefers the taste over the commercial stuff. Quick to mix up on the fly. Though you could mix up little batches and seal them individually in small ziplocks or make packets with tinfoil. I've also made this without the cornstarch and water and it was great!

When I make this, I just sprinkle the mixed seasoning into the meat, then add the water to the meat. I don't mix the seasonings in with the water.

2 teaspoons instant minced onion
1 teaspoon salt (I only use a pinch)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

yields enough for 1 lb of meat
mix with 1/4 c water

Balsamic Glazed Pearl Onions

These are a favorite at Thanksgiving, but are great all year round.

serves 8

2 1/2 pounds Pearl Onions
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup Water

In a saucepan of boiling water blanch onions for 3 minutes then drain. Cool onions and peel. (Or just use frozen! They are already peeled and it's much less work!)

- In a large heavy skillet, heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.

- Sauté onions until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

- Add vinegar and water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, about 15 minutes.

- Transfer onions with a slotted spoon to a platter, reserving liquid.
(Glazed onions may be prepared up to this point 2 days ahead and onions and reserved liquid, chilled separately, covered.)

- Reheat onions in reserved liquid, adding a little water if necessary, and transfer with slotted spoon to platter.

- Simmer reserved liquid until thickened and syrupy and reduced to about 1/2 cup.
Spoon sauce over onions and serve warm at room temperature.

Note: This recipe came from and was featured in november 2008 bj's journal. I didn't need the water in this recipe.

Baked Jambalaya

This recipe doubles nicely. I don't normally have time for once-a-month cooking, so I make double batches and freeze the 2nd batch after cooking. From the Once-a-Month Cookbook:

3 TBSP real bacon bits (I usually omit)
1/2 c celery, chopped (I usually omit)
1/2 c green pepper, chopped
2 TBSP Scallion, chopped (I use one onion instead)
1/2 lb kielbasa, cooked and sliced (I've substitued with andouille sausage before - it's really spicy!!)
1/2 lb ham, cooked and diced (I usually omit)
1/2 t dried thyme (I usually omit)
1 tsp cajun seasoning (i used cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper - just about a pinch of each, basil should be in there too maybe. didn't have it)
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (used jar of sauce instead)
1 1/2 c (or 14.5 oz can) beef broth
1 1/2 c long grain rice

Bake now directions: Mix everything together in a large bowl. Put into a 9 x 13 baking dish and cook covered with foil at 375 for 1 hour.

Freeze directions: Mix everything except rice, in large bowl. Pour into freezer bag, label and freeze. Measure out the rice and put in ziploc bag. Tape it to the Jambalaya freezer bag. Thaw, mix in rice, and put into 9x13 pan. bake covered, 375 for 1 hour.

Menu Plans

Making a menu plan is an economical means of reducing our monthly budget. It is a time and sanity saver! The past few months this has fell by the wayside in our home. But it's a new month and it's time revisit our menu plan!

I have a monthly menu that I keep on my desktop. When planning our monthly grocery trip, I look at the menu and see what I have on hand. This menu is verrrry flexible. It has ideas for beef, chicken and meatless meals. I leave a few spaces for new recipes to try. And I include a few convenience meals for difficult days.

Each day I check the menu plan while feeding the kids breakfast, to decide what we are having that evening. It is important to solidify a plan by lunchtime, so there is enough time to defrost or start the crockpot.

Having a menu plan is a great tool in my arsenal.

- It helps me to bring wholesome food to the table.

- It saves money on groceries since I shop less and reduces impulse shopping.

- It saves time since our big shopping needs to only be done once-a-month, with a few short trips to pick up milk or cream.

- It helps me focus on what is available in the pantry and I'm able to use my pantry more creatively. I know how much of a certain ingredient to have on hand, and how long it lasts. By marking dates on items, I plan my shopping for rock-bottom prices at the market. Paying close attention to the sale cycles and keeping track of prices in a pricebook, I know when it is the right time to stock up.

This month, I am going to experiment with bean recipes. Pinto beans, black beans and lima beans. I'm a big fan of red beans and rice, but my husband won't eat it unless it's a side dish for tacos. So, our bean recipes will mostly be for quick lunches for me and the kids.

Remember, a menu plan doesn't have to be anything fancy. It doesn't even have to be for a whole month. How about just for a week or two weeks? Any type of plan is better than no plan. Too many times I've been caught off guard and had to scramble at 5 o'clock to fix a meal for a very hungry and cranky family. I know some of you have been there! Avoid ordering out and all the stress! Keep it simple, but try making a menu plan for your family. It is worth the time and planning that goes into it. Your family will be very blessed by your efforts!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Free eBook - Father's Day Crafts

Head over to FaveCrafts to download a free eBook that has Father's Day crafts inside. Just close the pop-up window and the link is right on this page.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Secret Code Kobalt Lock-Back Utility Knife

This is cool and just in time for Father's Day. Lowe’s is offering a free Kobalt Lock-Back Utility Knife when you use a secret code!

Go here and enter the secret code 0316. A coupon will generate for you to print out. Take the coupon to your local Lowe’s and use it to get your free knife. There are only 20,000 knives being given, so act now!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shopping the Dollar Store

As with any store, you need to know your prices to be sure you are getting a good deal. Here are some of my favorite items that I regularly purchase from the dollar store:

Grocery store spices are extremely expensive. However, at the dollar store they can be a dollar or less. Sometimes I even get them at the Christmas Tree Shop. These are my go to stores for basics like garlic powder, black pepper, cinnamon, ground mustard, etc.

Cleaning Supplies
I love their rubber gloves, drain stoppers and shower curtains. Toilet bowl brushes and dish pans.

We use dish pans in our homeschool cabinet to collect worksheets and art drawings. I also store my coupon inserts in one. Finally, after a leak under our kitchen sink, I put all items in two separate dish pans so I can pull them out easily and get to what I need, while also keeping items off the cabinet surface (in case of another leak).

Greeting Cards
My dollar store offers 2 cards for $1! At other stores, greeting cards are $3+. A true savings to shop the dollar store for your greeting card needs. Make a list cards you will need for the year for birthdays and anniversaries. Then head to the dollar store! Put a nice note in the card, and include a spiritual bouquet for your loved one. It's free and thoughtful. Prayers are always a nice gift for someone.

Health and Beauty
Nail polish remover is a good one for me in this category. Though I haven't had to buy nail polish remover in years since I don't have time to do my nails anymore. But my absolute must have HBA item from the dollar store is $1 home pregnancy tests! I usually buy 5 or more at a time. They are good to have on hand at all times.

Birthday Balloons
My children love having a balloon on their special day. We get the silvery mylar balloons for $1 each. With lots of littles, we steer clear of plastic balloons for possible choke hazards. We get 1 for each child so there is no fighting. Make sure the ceiling fan is off! Don't ask me how I know ;)

What are some of your fav dollar store items?